NEW YORK — CNN reported that Don McLean, of Camden, sold the handwritten lyrics and accompanying notes to his song “American Pie” at a Christie’s auction this morning for $1.2 million. According to CNN, the lyrics, “achieved the 3rd highest auction price for an American literary manuscript, a fitting tribute to one the foremost singer-songwriters of his generation," Christie's Tom Lecky said in a statement.
The auction took place at 10 a.m. this morning, April 7. Besides the lyrics, the original manuscript and notes were sold. Christie’s had estimated the value at $1 million to $1.5 million.
The original working manuscript and typed drafts for the song comprise 16 pages, containing 237 lines of manuscript and 26 lines of typed text, according to Christie’s.
“Since debuting on the airwaves in 1971, Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ has stood as one of the most important icons of 20th-Century American music,” wrote Christie’s, in a pre-auction press release. “Alternately wistful, buoyant, and enigmatic, the singer-songwriter’s masterpiece became the anthem of McLean’s own “generation lost in space,” and continues to resonate in the present day. In the span of just six verses, McLean managed to depict with poetic authority the turbulent upheavals of the latter half of the twentieth century. In doing so, he created an emblem that stands alongside the work of post-war figures such as Andy Warhol, J.D. Salinger, and Bob Dylan in its importance to the American cultural canon. For the musician himself, the writing of “American Pie” was a means of capturing and examining the American zeitgeist; it was, McLean stated, ‘part of my process of self-awakening; a mystical trip into my past.’”
Said McLean, at his website: “For more than 40 years I have rambled around every state of the union and many, many countries of the world. My primary interests in life have been America, singing, songwriting, and the English language. I love the English language as much as anything in life and words really do mean something. I thought it would be interesting as I reach age 70 to release this work product on the song American Pie so that anyone who might be interested will learn that this song was not a parlor game. It was an indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music and then was fortunate enough through the help of others to make a successful recording. I would say to young songwriters who are starting out to immerse yourself in beautiful music and beautiful lyrics and think about every word you say in a song.”